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Book Review : Margaret Court the Autobiography

October 25, 2017

I enjoyed reading Margaret Court’s autobiography. However I often felt like I wasn’t the intended audience. While her tennis career took up less than half her life, three quarters of the book details these events. I like tennis, but sometimes the details of particular tournaments were a bit tedious, even though for Margaret they were significant events.

In her early days of tennis Margaret inadvertently challenged the cultural image of women as being mild and submissive, not everyone appreciate this. However, Margaret was fortunate to find those who saw her talent and determination, and she received good support through some difficult times.

The remaining quarter of the book is about her life after tennis and the journey that lead to her becoming a Pentecostal Pastor. Margaret had always been a devout Catholic so becoming a Pentecostal was quite a shift in spiritual direction, and then becoming a pastor even more so. This section of her story seems quite compressed after the leisurely description of her tennis achievements. In fact her own battle with cancer took less than a page. As a pastor who believes in healing, some more explanation of her acceptance of a mastectomy would have been welcome.

Margaret finishes the book with a quick comparison of some of her achievements compared to others, in particular Serena Williams. I wondered if this is because Serena is closing in on her record of 24 grand slam single titles? Margaret has won more regular singles titles, and more grand slam doubles titles than Serena is ever likely to win. It seems to chafe Margaret that Serena is sometimes refers to as the greatest ever female player. Nevertheless, it’s hard to make such comparisons when their achievements were in different time periods, under different conditions.

Margaret has endeavoured throughout the book to be honest and frank. Sometimes however, this comes across as being abrasive and insensitive. At several junctions she wonders why she didn’t get the affirmations from the crowd and the media that others received. I suspect it is because her honesty is interpreted as abruptness or terseness. Her opinions come across much more strongly than she realizes.

The book would have flowed better with some extra editing, but overall it was an interesting read.

by Susan Barnes
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Susan Barnes

~ writer of insightful posts about God and faith